Monday, May 18, 2009

Analysis of Urban Ring Citizens Advisory Committee meeting April 14, 2009; announcement of CAC meeting June 10, 2009

Archie Mazmanian’s analysis of the April 14, 2009 Urban Ring Phase 2 Citizens Advisory Committee meeting:

The CAC meeting April 14 included a presentation by A Better City (ABC) Planning Director and CAC Co-Chair Tom Nally.

The presentation provided several slides, with suggestions for taking several limited steps. EOT’s Ned Cod did not seem too impressed with this but perhaps bit his tongue to “comply” with the March 6, 2009 DEIR Certificate issued by Ian A. Bowles, Secretary, Executive 0ffice of Energy and Environmental Affairs. No handouts were made available to members of the public in attendance; we could only look at the slides and listen to Nally’s general narrative.

This demonstrates the “power” of ABC and its development-membership that I referred to in an earlier letter posted on the Chalres River White Geese blog March 17, 2009. After the close of the meeting, I asked Ned Codd if the ABC slides would be posted on the Urban Ring website together with EOT’s presentation. He said he thought so, subject to ABC’s permission. I suggested that these became public records and should be included. In fact, ABC’s proposal in its entirety should be disclosed to the public under the circumstances so the public can be in a position to comment on them at a later date.

There were no positive messages presented at this meeting, especially in light of recent transportation events and MA budget cutting. In fact there seemed to be a suggestion from Ned Codd that the LMA tunnel might not be affordable under FTA requirements for New Starts federal funding, as MA has to be able to demonstrate availability of project funding beyond what FTA may provide; and it was not clear that MA could do this.

In the public comment period, I “tiraded” that I was hearing at this meeting the voice of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during the 2003 Iraq conflict about “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns" that also seem to plague Phase 2 of the Urban Ring. Public transit has major problems now, and they are getting worse. I further “tiraded” that assuming Phase 2 passes muster and is completed, say, by 2020, public transit problems surely would have further worsened in the interim, such that Phase 2 would only serve as a “band-aid” when surgery is required, in the form of Phase 3 with its light/heavy dedicated rail. As to no LMA tunnel, I further “tiraded” that the traffic mess in the LMA currently is measurable and superimposing Phase 2 surface routes through LMA should reveal the absurdity, the futility of “no tunnel” since what happens in the LMA, unlike Vegas, does not stay in the LMA and causes traffic problems in surrounding neighborhoods.

What’s sad is that the Legislature is not seriously addressing transportation issues. At some point public transit users will become vociferous, especially with the economy far from recovery, as it may become more difficult commuting to their jobs. The Greater Boston area relies upon public transit. The Greater Boston area provides much of MA’s economic activity. Solving these problems will be expensive since the problems have long been neglected and ignored. MA cannot rely upon federal funding to address these problems. The Legislature has to come up with a way to find the money—and fast! Band-aids won’t stop the bleeding.

You may post this letter on your Blog, if you wish.

Archie Mazmanian
Brookline, MA 02446

Archie now notes that on April 22, 2009, EOT posted on its website its presentation including the ABC slides:

Also, there will be an Urban Ring Phase 2 CAC meeting on Wednesday, June 10, 2009, from 4-6 PM at 10 Park Plaza, Conference Room 2-3. The meeting will discuss the “pending Notice of Project Change and review the proposed implementation strategy for the Urban Ring Phase 2 project.” Contact at EOT is Scott Hamwey, telephone 617-973-7210.

Marilyn Wellons